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McCaw wants no distractions as he seeks improvement from All Blacks

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James Mortimer     07 Sep 2013     Getty Images

Many would rate those victories to be quite comprehensive, but for the All Blacks, looking at areas they can refine has been a big part of the build-up this week.

McCaw, as he does, has turned the focus onto his own team, saying that while the Pumas would provide an alternate challenge, it was important the All Blacks continue to build on their start to the tournament.

“We want to improve our performance over the first couple of weeks,” he said.

“We think the Argentineans will provide a different challenge as they are certainly a lot more forward orientated. Set piece will be pretty key.

“But a big part of it though is us wanting to improve on where we have been. We were better the second week compared to the first so hopefully there will be improvement again.”

While the Pumas brought a powerful scrum to New Zealand, McCaw said that the All Blacks forwards were excited about testing their wares against a country that lived and breathed scrummaging.

“It is a part of the game they have always enjoyed,” he said.

“The way the new law is you have to scrum a bit longer, and that is something they enjoy. I think our boys are looking forward to that challenge.

“The engagement you have to get used to it pretty quickly. Without the hit you need to be in a good position for longer and need to be able to get the ball back to be able to play with it.

“We’ve put a fair amount of work into that…It wasn’t perfect last week, but we should be better.”

Despite the battle the Pumas would bring to Waikato Stadium in the set piece exchanges, the All Blacks were hoping to play their preferred up tempo game, knowing that they have the ability to run most teams of their feet.

“If you hold the ball for a long time and put the ball in space and get your decisions right it is hard for teams to defend against for long periods,” McCaw said.

“(But) if we allow it to be a stop start affair and it goes from set piece to set piece, it will become an arm wrestle against whoever you play.

“Traditionally that is the way the Argentineans like to get stuck in so we’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

However despite a new opponent, a match at home and the challenge of maintaining form that has seen the All Blacks win 27 straight Test matches on Kiwi soil, McCaw said that a major part of the brief was ensuring that fresh goals continued to be set.

“When we came in at the start of the week we said we had a couple of games at home where we needed to improve our performance,” McCaw said.

“It certainly is always a big challenge to keep backing up (but) we don’t want to be satisfied with just what happens with the scoreboard.”

While there was talk that the Argentines could create some chaos on the field, McCaw said the All Blacks would not become involved with anything beyond playing rugby, even though he said firmly his team would not yield to the challenge.

“The big thing is we don’t want to get distracted,” McCaw said.

“If you get frustrated with what is happening it doesn’t help anybody, but equally you don’t want to take a backward step.

“We’re here to play rugby, if we do that properly, we’ll be on the front foot from the start. The boys won’t step down, you’ve got to bar up and there are ways of imposing yourself physically.”